Good bone health is just as important as buff muscles and a slender body. By incorporating resistance and weight-bearing exercises into your fitness routine while you're young, you can help avoid bone and range of motion issues later in life. Resistance bands, also referred to as stretch bands, are a convenient, cost-effective way to build strong bones.
Stretch Band Benefits
Growing new bone tissue is somewhat similar to building muscle tissue. For it to happen, you have to put demands on your bones. Resistance band training, weight-bearing workouts and any movements that work in opposition of gravity -- such as stair-climbing or walking -- help your bones to increase in density. Having stronger bones, and strengthening the ligaments, muscles and tendons around them, will help you reduce the risk of health issues such as osteoporosis later in life. Having stronger bones means you'll be able to continue enjoying your favorite activities as you age.
The key part of stretch band exercises is the resistance. To get sufficient resistance you have to start each exercise with the band taut. If the band is loose when you begin, you're not going to challenge your body or place enough demand on your bones and muscles as you would with a tighter band. When the band is too long at full-length to pull it taut, simply wind the handles around your hands a few times or fold the band in half and use it that way. Some exercises require you to place the handles of the band around the leg of a table or something else secure to form a loop in which you'll do your exercises. Whatever you use, be sure it's secure so the band doesn't come loose, causing you to get hurt.
Stretch Band Exercises
There are so many stretch band exercises available that you need not ever suffer from exercise boredom. Work your entire body and strengthen your bones with combination exercises such as lunges and bicep curls, or tricep pushups. Perform squats with overhead presses by standing on the center of the resistance band with your feet shoulder-width apart. Pull the handles of the stretch band up to your shoulders while keeping your bent elbows close to your sides. Squat down 45 to 90 degrees. As you stand up, push your hands up over your head. You can also do seated rows and leg presses with your stretch band. Perform eight to 16 reps of each exercise in your routine.
Keep in Mind
Even though a stretch band is a lot lighter than free weights, you're still working your muscles. Take one day off in between resistance training sessions so your muscles have time to recover. Get a well-rounded workout by performing cardio exercises for a minimum of 150 minutes per week. When your stretch band exercises start getting easier, pull the band tighter during exercise for increased resistance. Schedule an appointment with your doctor before starting a new exercise routine to make sure it's the right one for you.
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: 6 Exercises to Help Build Bone Strength and Help Prevent Osteoporosis
- Sports Fitness Advisor: Resistance Band Exercises
- Fitness Magazine: Resistance Band Workouts
- RealSimple.com: 6 Easy Resistance Band Exercises
- Mayo Clinic: Fitness Training -- Elements of a Well-Rounded Routine
- Pennsylvania Department of Health: Women and Physical Activity -- The Importance of Strength Training
- JTPhoto/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
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